Great Northern 1946 Annual Report

Departing from the black-and-white cover photos of the previous five years, the 1946 annual report introduces the streamlined Empire Builder with this gorgeous color cover, which wraps around to the back (see the full cover below). This is the same image used on a postcard that we’ve seen before, but the colors on the annual report’s cover are more highly saturated.

Click image to download a 28.9-MB PDF of this annual report.

Curiously, the illustrator who added color to what was probably two black-and-white photos–one of the Columbia River and a superimposed image of the train–neglected to include the yellow pinstripe between the top orange stripe and the green above it. The locomotives had been delivered with those pinstripes in 1945, so its not like the railroad didn’t know that particular pinstripe was there.

Click image to download a 1.3-MB PDF of this cover.

Though this is a 1946 annual report, it would have been published after the February, 1947 inauguration of the streamlined Empire Builder. The train is also featured in the centerfold of this annual report, with ten interior photos, a full-length photo of the entire train, and a floor plan of each car on the train. The interior photo of the observation car shows Winold Reiss Indian portraits between each of the windows; unfortunately, none of those cars survive as all were converted to a different configuration when dome cars were added to the Empire Builder in 1955.

In other news, “The hotels, chalets and camps in Glacier National Park were open in 1946 for the first time since 1942,” says the report. “More persons visited the Park than in any previous season.” The railroad probably still lost money on the park, as it had in every year before the war.

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